Two Aussie blokes riding their BMW R1150GSs from Australia to Europe

Tag: thailand

Thailand to Burma (Myanmar) – 6119kms

We did the math before deciding a route through Thailand and decided it was better to head to Ko Lanta Island on the west coast for some R & R before heading straight up to the north of Thailand to our border crossing at Mae Sot into Burma. Ko Lanta is an island off the west coast of Thailand and based upon our research seemed to be the island to stay on not to touristy on the south end and we could get the bikes over on 2 ferries at the cost of $2 each. We were surprised at the amount of tourists but ended up happy on the south end in a great little beach side resort to enjoy our first official rest day. It was difficult to leave Ko Lanta but we were happy to be back in the saddle and once back on the main land our next leg took us through Khlong Phanom National park with perfect tight corners and limestone mountains literally leaping out in front of us, not the longest road but given our constant freeway journey since landing in South-East asia it lifted our spirits. We made it as far as Phetkasem to find a hostel within walking distance to the beach and lay our heads for the night.

True love...

True love…

Koh Lanta's National Park. Could be worse

Koh Lanta’s National Park. Could be worse

Up bright and early for a swim we made good time the following morning taking us through to the east coast, the distance surprising us as the land is so narrow only a small 70klm’ls from west to east. With a quick consult of the map we realised Bangkok was unachievable but a small town on the east coast that Jimmy and Monica had stayed last year would work and we ended up staying in the exact room they had shared months earlier. Next stop Bangkok for a much-needed battery charger for Jimmy’s camera, given our little interest in city traffic we exited as soon as possible to meet with Bangkok Police on a motorway only for cars and trucks and we were instructed to turn around and ride against oncoming traffic to get off!

Stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Bangkok

Stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Bangkok

Our breakfast restaurant in Kamphaeng Phet

Our breakfast restaurant in Kamphaeng Phet

Our chef at our breakfast restaurant in Kamphaeng Phet

Our chef at our breakfast restaurant in Kamphaeng Phet

Our breakfast in Kamphaeng Phet

Our breakfast in Kamphaeng Phet

Matt who we met over a few beers had recommended a road south of Mae Sot that weaves its way to the largest waterfall in Thailand high in the mountains in Umphung a 170klm journey taking us up about 2000 m with stunning scenery and views through to a much-anticipated Burma. Jimmy and I had a huge amount of fun on the way up over 1000 bends leading us into Umphung to a much deserved beer and given our lack of private space we decided to splash out at $8 a night on a room each.

Lunch off the beaten track enroute to Umphang

Lunch off the beaten track enroute to Umphang

The road to Umphang

The road to Umphang

We left Umphung in search of the waterfall, we had heard that one could only make it with a local tour company but given we ride adventure bikes that wasn’t going to stop us! We made our way out to the national park and proceeded to buy tickets to get in but to our disappointment they wouldn’t less us in on our bikes. We consulted the map to locate a smaller waterfall 30 klm down the road and decided to try our luck, the paved road came and went and we ended up along way off the beaten track onto 15 klm’s of dirt, mud and ruts that eventually broke the forces of gravity with us both dropping our bikes at low-speed. We dusted off our pride and headed back in disappointed to not have showered in a Thai waterfall.

Getting dirty whilst trying to find a waterfall

Getting dirty whilst trying to find a waterfall

 

 

Off the beaten track

Off the beaten track

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With all the dirt riding in the morning the concentration needed for the journey home wore us down, the road was awesome but not consistent in condition and you had to stay alert to avoid any mishaps. A short stop at the halfway point found some other big bikes, BMW’s and a few Harley’s why you would take a Harley along this path astounded us but we soon learned the Harley rider owned Bangkok Harley Davidson so I guess he didn’t have a choice! Great to meet other riders on the road, always up for a chat about our journey.

Mae Sot was surprisingly big and initially I was keen to check it out but soon learned that it was a typical border town and mostly consisted of retail trade with Burma. A good night sleep with an early start to cross the border into Burma the following day and meet up with our tour.

Malaysia into Thailand – 4039kms

Chinese New Year. A time when one of the planet’s largest communities celebrates with their families and friends. A time for reflection, fireworks, food and good times. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting…

What we didn’t realise (and what the freight agent we’d employed in Kuala Lumpur who promised to have our bikes out of customs within 24 hours failed to tell us) was that we’d arrived right smack bang in the middle of the Chinese New Year celebrations. We arrived on a Sunday and booked a hotel right near the airport so that we could get straight down to business on the Monday. Our hearts sank however when Old Mate at the hotel reception told us that because of Chinese New Year, all of Malaysia had a holiday on the Monday. And the Tuesday. Come Monday we took a punt and went to the freight office anyway, but to no avail. Calls went unanswered, and emails sat undelivered on servers.

KL's Chinatown by night

KL’s Chinatown by night

So two days were spent in KL and we ticked most of Tripadvisor’s top 10 attractions off our list. It was bitter sweet however, as all we really wanted was our bikes. We finally got in touch with somebody on Wednesday morning who told us the bikes would be ready by the afternoon; so we packed our bags immediately and headed back to the airport cargo area. Once we got to the freight forwarders holding area, we meet some very enthusiastic staff who just couldn’t get enough of our bikes! We constantly had an audience of 5-10 blokes who watched and helped us put the bikes back together – we’ve since discovered that our bikes are real head turners here in South East Asia, where small motorbikes and scooters are so common.

KL's Petronas Towers

KL’s Petronas Towers

KL Bird Park

KL Bird Park

Behind the waterfall

Behind the waterfall

We were constantly surrounded by people as we put the bikes back together

We were constantly surrounded by people as we put the bikes back together

A happy camper, after boxing and reassembling the bikes

A happy camper, after boxing and reassembling the bikes

Very happy to see our bikes again, even in their boxes

Very happy to see our bikes again, even in their boxes

Very happy to see our bikes again, even in their boxes

Very happy to see our bikes again, even in their boxes

It was five o’clock by the time the bikes were reassembled, but we were determined to get as far away from the city as possible. We decided the Cameron Highlands would make some good sightseeing and motorcycling, so we punched the details into the GPS and headed off. We were amazed at just how far we made it too – Malaysia’s road infrastructure is incredible. The speed limit was 110kms/hour the whole way, and nearly all of the traffic sat 10-20kms/hour above this. We made excellent time and were really happy to be on the move.

On the streets of Tapah, Malaysia

On the streets of Tapah, Malaysia

The following morning we headed up into the Highlands proper but were thwarted by bad traffic; the Chinese New Year celebrations were still in swing and it seemed that half of KL had come up to the highlands, so once back down the other side we decided to jump back on the expressway and head to Penang Island.

High in the hills of Penang

High in the hills of Penang

Riding through a small town in Penang

Riding through a small town in Penang

The view from our hotel room in Penang

The view from our hotel room in Penang

With the deadline of our tour through Burma looming on the 20th, we decided to head from Penang straight to the Thai border, which again saw us stuck on the raw side of the Chinese New Year. Literally hundreds of people were queued up to get across the border and with no signs, order or general instruction it was a very trying and time consuming process to get both us and bikes into Thailand. But we eventually made it through and made as fast as we could to our next destination; Koh Lanta.

Riding the streets of Thailand, on our way to Koh Lanta

Riding the streets of Thailand, on our way to Koh Lanta

Bikes and beach. Could be worse!

Bikes and beach. Could be worse!

And this is where we find ourselves now. It’s tough, but we figured we’ve earned it. We’ve stopped for two nights for a break from the road to recharge our batteries (and our cameras!), before we make a big push towards Mae Sot where we’ll cross the border on the 20th to begin our compulsory tour of Burma.

The beach we decided to park ourselves at for the night on Koh Lanta

The beach we decided to park ourselves at for the night on Koh Lanta

Very happy to not be wearing our riding gear right now

Very happy to not be wearing our riding gear right now

Yep, Blokes with Cocktails

Yep, Blokes with Cocktails

Sunset from Koh Lanta

Sunset from Koh Lanta

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